Simplify your…um…drawers.

Have you ever found yourself rummaging through your top drawer looking for your “good” undies among a sea of tiny (but beautiful) lacy torture devices?

But it's so PRETTY!
But it’s so PRETTY!

I found myself in this situation the other day, and just to drive the point home, I remembered that I had left some of the good stuff (Thank you GapBody) in a laundry basket because when I was putting clean clothes away several days before, it wouldn’t all fit.

It sounds ridiculous because IT IS, but I realize that I have done this my whole life. I’ve allowed stuff that I don’t even care about to take up time and space in my life. The trade-off is less time and space for the people and things I do care about.

This morning I tackled my jewelry drawer. As I made my way through the mess, I found a two of pairs of earrings that I love but had completely forgotten about because they were buried under jewelry I haven’t touched in years. One pair was even my Nana’s earrings that I thought were long lost.
drawer before

And now, it looks like…
drawer after
Clutter takes from us. It takes our time and our piece of mind. It keeps us from enjoying the things that we actually do love. For me, once this clicked, it has become so clear that having all this extra stuff around is keeping me from enjoying my life to the fullest.
What did keeping all that jewelry around cost me? The worry when I thought I had lost my Nana’s earrings. The time spent rummaging through looking for what I wanted. The guilt that I never used all this stuff that I had paid for or that was given to me. And it even cost me the use of the earrings I actually loved when they got buried and lost.

So here is my challenge for us this weekend. Let’s start simple…

Find a drawer in your house that is driving you nuts with clutter. It might be your kitchen utensil drawer, your sock drawer, your junk drawer, the drawer that holds your actual drawers… doesn’t matter.

Declutter the hell outta that drawer! If you need a step-by-step, here is what works for me.
1. Pick out the things that you actually NEED, USE, or LOVE.(Remember, you have to love it for you. There was lots of jewelry in my drawer that I loved but never wore because I obviously didn’t love it on me. That gets donated!) Put them aside in a “keep pile”.

2. Look at what is left. There is a reason these things are not in your Keep pile! Go through it, just to make sure nothing important is buried (like Nana’s earrings), and toss the rest into the trash or a donate box. Be ruthless. Only add additional things to your keep pile if they REALLY fit the bill.

3. Give the drawer a quick wipe down, and then put away whatever belongs in the drawer from your keep pile.

4. If there is anything left in your keep pile, put it away in a logical place.

5. Stand back and admire your work! Notice how you can see what you need, how you won’t have to rummage anymore! Great Job!:)

If you accepted this challenge I would love to hear about it! What drawer did you declutter and how did it go?

Dear house, it’s not you… (It’s the STUFF)

Before discovering the concept of minimalism, I was an Organizer.

I had this theory that if there was ever a spot in the house that accumulated too much crap, then I needed to rethink how it was organized. This often meant buying baskets, containers, drawers, shelves, hooks, even furniture… whatever made sense to house the clutter and get it organized. When the pantry got out of control, I bought new storage. When I couldn’t fit all my clothes and shoes in the closet, I bought a clothing rack and (yet another) shoe organizer. When I neatly packed another box of stuff-we-aren’t-using-right-now-but-might-use-someday, I labeled it and down to the basement it went. And it kind of worked, I guess. But it was exhausting and incredibly time consuming and I found I could never, EVER keep up.

I complained to my husband that I was overwhelmed by our house. “This house is too big,” I said. “I just can’t keep up with the picking up! It’s all I ever do!” Then my eyes were opened by my closet purge, and one day, after carefully reorganizing the kids’ toys AGAIN, I turned to my husband and said,

“Oh my god. Husband. It’s not the house, it’s the STUFF.”*

Yes, it was the stuff. It was the never ending battle of picking up, organizing, and cleaning all this stuff that made me feel like was running in circles.

I teach High School Economics, and I was immediately reminded of a lesson I teach my kids on Opportunity Cost. Bottom Line: Every good is SCARCE… your time, your energy, your money… and every time you choose to spend these scarce resources of yours in one way, means you choose to NOT spend it in another way. All of this stuff cost me not just the actual price of the items, but it was costing me my TIME. I was choosing the stuff over the people and things that I love.

And so… if I spend less time and energy dealing with the STUFF, I would have more time and energy to play with my kids, laugh with my husband, read a book, or call a friend. It is that simple.

And that, my friends, is my minimalism. I’m choosing to get rid of the stuff that is not important to make time for the stuff that is.

Starting with my next post, I’ll be getting specific on the methods we have adopted in our house to simplify, and how this process is looking for us. We have a long way to go, and I’m hoping some of you will tackle some projects with me!

*I have since figured out that it is ALSO the house, but more on that in a later post!

How it all started… THE PURGE


Last year, after a 5 year break from teaching to stay home with my Littles, it was time to go back to work. I reluctantly admitted to myself that yoga pants and tank tops are not work-appropriate, (except on Halloween? Can I be a yoga instructor?) and set about bringing my boxes of old work clothes up from storage. At about the same time, my mom retired and sent me home from a visit to her place with about 2 decades of her old work clothes. And then, of course, I had to make some purchases… teachers get new school clothes too, right?

To accommodate this influx of clothes, I booted my husband’s stuff out of our spare bedroom closet and claimed it as my own. I excitedly pinned beautiful photos in a board I dubbed CLOSET ROOM and set about creating my peaceful, zen-like dressing room. I bought a funky jewelry holder, moved my most prized piece of furniture into the room, found the perfect paint color, and made it exactly what I had imagined. No more off-season clothes storage for me! It was all here… won’t that make life so much EASIER?

Nope.

You probably already see where this was headed, but my space, although beautiful, was anything but zen-like. It was a newly-painted room stuffed to the brim with clothes from every season of my life (and my mom’s career) dating back to my swinging single days, sparkly tube tops and all. But I didn’t see it….yet.

The school year started, life sped up, and before I knew it, my Pinterest-perfect room was a disaster. There were so many items to organize, fold, clean, consider, put away, and even just to look at. Each item claimed a bit of my attention, time, and energy. One night in Spring I was online, just browsing around when I came upon this article by xoJane. She was describing her quest for a minimalist wardrobe, and was attempting to whittle her closet down to 10 items. That’s not really what caught my attention. What caught my attention was her method. Specifically her first two steps:

Step one: “Confront your closet…start the cleanout by reaching in to grab every piece of clothing that you love.”

Step two: “Examine [these items] to see if a theme emerges.

She continues on, all the way to step 10 to keep up the process, but I was already hooked.

First, I realized that I had very few items that I LOVE. This massive closet room was full, and it was full of things that didn’t quite fit right, or were just not very comfortable, or didn’t really go with anything else… you get the idea. And second, when I pulled out what I actually did love, then that would show me what I was truly comfortable in. It would show me What my style actually IS, not what I want it to be or think it should be. I could take my all-over-the-map wardrobe and hone in my actual style. On ME. On simple.

Here is the kicker. Deep breath. It’s confession time.

That night, I pulled over 130 items of clothing out of my closet and threw them on the floor. I looked over the pile (yes, including the sparkly tube top) and realized there was not a single thing I would miss.

I stepped back to admire my handiwork, and…

I hadn’t even made a dent. 

My eyes had been opened. There was no going back. I have waaaaay too much stuff.

Since that day, I have launched this family on a journey to simplify. It started in the closet, but it is spreading into all corners of our life and we are loving it. As my husband says, “This minimalism thing isn’t just about the stuff, it’s about everything!”  It’s a movement to remove anything from our lives that distracts us from what is most important to us. I’m reading books, reading articles, talking to wise people, writing as I go, and going through a ton of trial and error, and just trying to define this new path of whatever form of minimalism works best for my family. I am so excited to write about this crooked path and our insights and challenges along the way, and I hope that it becomes a place where you can do the same. I know this message of more simplicity is one that resonates with so many people, and I would love to invite you on this journey with us!